Missiles and Memory

The Minutemen Missiles in South Dakota was an example of the Cold War economy of the two benefits it brought to the economy. The first benefit it brought to the economy was the jobs in western South Dakota. The second benefit was the building permits auctioned off for the building of the silos. The article “Missiles and Memory” states, “ The project promised $60 million in construction contracts alone” (Heefner 186). That kind of revenue helps build an economy immensely. One of the points the article makes as to why the missile silos ended up in South Dakota is its vast land and low population. Another reason the missile silos were placed where they were was due to the interstate system created by Dwight D. Eisenhower. This interstate system “was designed to provide an efficient means of moving large numbers of military personal and huge quantities of military equipment and supplies” (Heefner 181). The interstate was also being used by tourists flocking to the attractions western South Dakota has to offer.
I think a silo was preserved as a national historic site to help shed light on the part of history that might otherwise be forgotten. The article talks about how remembering the Cold War differed from other wars. Unlike other wars, the Cold War didn’t have casualties. The population of western South Dakota felt having the missile silos was a patriotic duty. Memorials have been made to remember fallen soldiers in wars of the past. There is no question the Cold War should be remembered, but how we remember it is the question that should be asked. The silo offers a way to remember what happened in South Dakota and the Cold War. Remembering the crisis, the United States was under is essential in understanding that part of our history. Preserving that silo through the National Park Service immortalizes that event.
The article was a very interesting perspective on the part of history often left behind. When I think about the Cold War, I don’t think about South Dakota. I grew up in South Dakota and might have learned about missile silos in middle school. My history teacher briefly mentioned the silos west river, as it was not part of our curriculum. I also didn’t know about the dismantling of the missile silos. Using an explosive to dismantle a missile silo doesn’t sound safe to me, but I know little about the topic of weapons. It also sounds like an ecological nightmare. I understand the farmers anger about how the missiles impacted their land. It is wild to think western South Dakota was “just thirty minutes from total annihilation” (Heefner 202). One small statement in the article didn’t sit right with me. One of the farmers compared their issues over the missile silos to the Native Americans on the plains. I understand the farmers went through hardship with the missile silos, but they were not murdered in a mass genocide. But that’s another issue of how history is remembered (especially in South Dakota).

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